Despite having had to recruit an entire new first XI in the week leading up to the tournament, Qalandars maintained their hopes of winning the Abu Dhabi T10 after earning a play-off place.
The Lahore-based franchise beat Delhi Bulls by three wickets with a ball to spare in the first game of Friday afternoon at a busy Zayed Cricket Stadium.
It meant they secured the final place in Saturday’s eliminator matches, even with two matches still to play in the pool stage.
They succeeded despite being without both Tom Banton and Chris Jordan – their outstanding batsmen and bowler respectively – through injury.
The victory might have been far easier, were it not for Mohammed Nabi, whose quick-fire 48 lifted Delhi from 46 for six in the seventh over to a competitive total of 98 for from 10.
George Garton and Mujeeb Ur Rahman had matching figures of two for nine from their two-over spells.
Cameos from captain Dawid Malan, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, and Jordan Clark were enough to get Qalandars over the winning line.
“Hopefully we can build on this moving into the next games and take that confidence we have picked up into the games moving forward,” Malan said.
“The coach [Aaqib Javed] and the owners are fantastic. It is not like it has been sometimes in the past, where you feel like you have to play certain players or what have you.
“They are very good at allowing us to work together and get the team that we want. They don’t put any pressure on us as a team, which is fantastic.
“If the players can go out and play with freedom, that is a great place to be, if you want to go out and take those risks.
“It has been fantastic from a captain’s point of view to be able to have that freedom, and it has shown in the way we have played in the past two days.”
The fixture pitted Malan in direct opposition to Eoin Morgan, his captain for England in the series in New Zealand which preceded this tournament.
The Bulls had already been condemned to missing out on a play-off place, which was a surprise given the personnel they have at their disposal.
Stephen Fleming, their coach, has a glittering CV in franchise cricket, while Morgan captained England to World Cup-glory last summer, as well Kerala Kings to the first T10 title two years ago.
“I thought we looked really strong at the beginning of the tournament, but lagged a little bit after the game we tied,” Morgan said.
“I thought that hurt us a lot. I thought we played really well in that game, and in cases like that you have to win, otherwise – by the law of averages – you will play poorly in a couple of games.
“Today was an average game for us, but we fought back really, really well. To get it to go to the second last ball of the game was a really great effort by our bowlers.”